From IOWA to NOLA – GCC 2017

Delta Sigma Pi’s 51st Grand Chapter Congress was held in New Orleans, Louisiana August 16 – 20, 2017. Many collegiate and alumni brothers from central Iowa attended this biennial event. Recorded below are the experiences of 2 alumni: Jody, President of the Des Moines – Central Iowa Alumni Chapter, who was the chapter’s delegate to congress; and David, VP-CO of the Des Moines – Central Iowa Alumni Chapter, who was the chapter’s alternate delegate.

Both David and Jody flew to NOLA, David by way of Minneapolis where he happened to share a plane with some Twin Cities Alumni Chapter (TCAC) members and Jody by way of Chicago and some flight delays and an 8-hour layover at O’Hare. But Jody did end up arriving in the crescent city and had an especially memorable taxi ride from the airport to the hotel driven by an extremely Cajun cabbie.

The hotel was the Sheraton New Orleans, and both commented how great of a location this was to the city’s action, being just a block from the famed French Quarter and 2-blocks from Bourbon Street. Throughout the week, Jody and David became well-acquainted with several of the local establishments including The Jimani and The Worlds Famous Cats Meow. There were a few issues with the hotel. More than 1 brother was treated in the hospital for allergic reactions to hotel food. The lack of ventilation in the hotel rooms left pot smoke lingering in rooms and hallways. (It is unconfirmed whether or not it was Deltasigs or other hotel guests passing the doobie.)

Brothers got lucky with the timing of Grand Chapter Congress. Earlier in August the city experienced flooding associated with failures of the city’s storm water pumping system.
Then later in the month after congress had concluded, remnants of hurricane Harvey made landfall in Western Louisiana. During the week of Grand Chapter, the weather was mostly pleasant, hot, with some rain. August is typically a slow month for tourism in the city, so especially early in the week, brothers felt like they had much of the town to themselves. It was not hard to get on tours and see performances. Several TCAC brothers took a bayou tour.

Neither Jody nor David participated in the community service initiative, working on the city’s historic cemeteries, but they did hear that one of the COYs found some bones (not an unusual occurrence) while cleaning up around a grave.

Cajun band (note the woman (center) playing the washboard)

Tuesday night both Jody and David (by invitation) attended the National Officers Appreciation Event, which was held in a bowling alley that also featured live music (pictured) and arcade games. This was a fun time for the 2 bus-loads of brothers who attended.

As the sessions kicked off on Wednesday, David had the special opportunity of assisting with the setup of AV equipment and gaining backstage access to the logical operations of a Grand Chapter Congress. In business, it’s all about who you know, and David’s connections to TCAC President, Adam and Central Office’s Jeremy provided David the ‘in’ for helping things run smoothly and managing activities like estimating attendance during different sessions and setting up projectors.

Jody attended the Alumni Forum session and said that it was good. Linda, the National Alumni Development Committee Chair led the discussions that featured ideas from different alumni chapters from around the country. Jody believes the Des Moines – Central Iowa Alumni Chapter needs to develop and hold an annual ‘signature event’ that it will be known for, much like other chapters do. Also interesting were the comments and experiences by one East Coast alumni chapter that was just starting up, so Jody was able to compare Des Moines’ progress as an alumni chapter to one newly-created.

The Wednesday night’s Grand President’s Dance was good, but neither Jody nor David stayed the whole time. With the hotel being located next to such great night life, often options outside of the hotel seemed just as attractive as the fraternity’s scheduled events. This was a comment that they had heard from other alumni regarding previous Grand Chapters held in NOLA… that those were unique because of the fun location. The space for the Grand President’s Dance was not as large as the 2015 GCC in Schaumburg, but did feature some games and plenty of dancing.

Thursday was the honorary initiation. Both Jody and David were impressed by the story of Honorary Initiate, Alden McDonald, president and CEO of Liberty Bank. Mr. McDonald had an amazing story of coming from nothing to being the owner and CEO of a bank, then that bank being devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and McDonald building it back again.

The business sessions for debate and voting by the Grand Chapter kicked off Thursday. David and Jody described these as intense. Going into GCC Jody believed that the Fraternity and its members were generally of a progressive nature, in terms of thinking about the proposed legislation, especially after talking to many Midwestern alums who often shared her views. But she was surprised to find how passionate others were about tradition and keeping things exactly the way they are now. David was mainly concerned that collegiates might be misinformed either about our history, what these traditions actually mean and whether or not they are important to our future, and what the proposed changes would do in practice to the Fraternity.

There was some legislation that easily passed (having to do with clarifying some policies), but all of the other legislation failed (although 1 piece of it only failed by 3 votes). Part of what made passage difficult was the hurdle of achieving 3/4 of the vote (not just a simple majority).

Jody and David commented that the time for discussion did not seem adequate, but both doubted that more discussion would have changed any hearts or minds. Perhaps delegates were locked into their votes even before arriving at Grand Chapter.

More passion was expressed in the elections for National Officers than in the proposed legislation changes. North Central Provincial COY, Brikken gave the intro speech for Grand President Candidate Jodi (North Central PVP). Both David and Jody thought Brikken’s was a very good speech.
They also believed that it wound up being the best public speakers who came away with election victories. And both believed Grand President Candidate Tricia (Northeastern PVP and GP election winner) gave a great speech.

Nolan at the North Central Province Caucus

They also liked Nolan’s speech (pictured) for Jillian (former Des Moines resident, Great Plains RVP, and North Central PVP candidate). David and Jody heard from multiple brothers that the race between Jillian and Cory (North Central RVP and winner of North Central PVP election) was the toughest vote because they like both of the candidates so much.

Jillian at the North Central Province Caucus

This was a unique GCC experience for the Iowans in attendance as well as many of their Minnesotan friends because they all knew candidates Jodi, Cory, and Jillian and were very invested in the campaigning. Campaigns did not heat up until Thursday, but after that the swag was flying and David and Jody commented on the strong ground-game of Jodi’s GP campaign. David thought that the rules for campaigning are in need of updates especially related to the prohibition of campaigning via social media. David also noted his frustration with the fact that current board members had to stay impartial to all candidates.

The Friday night event was actually 2 events. Due to the record or near-record attendance of the 2017 GCC (about 1,200 brothers) there were too many people to fit onto the planned activity. This was a riverboat cruise. So many brothers, including 2 from Iowa attended a ghost tour (by boat) followed by a dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp. Jody believes that one of the Iowa brothers on the haunted boat tour captured photographic evidence of a ghost (a claim that has yet to be fact-checked).

1,000 brothers parade towards the river boat

The majority of GCC attendees who did not go ghost hunting, started with a parade (pictured) from the hotel down Canal Street towards the river, where the river boat (featuring a dinner cruise) was waiting. Both David and Jody commented about how neat the parade was. Large in size, tossing beads, stopping traffic, drawing much attention… it was quite a spectacle.

But Jody and David were less impressed by the river boat, the cruise, and the Southern cooking served on board. There were some good views from the water, especially of the city as the sun was setting and the town was going up in lights, but the boat felt crowded.

Banquet

Saturday night’s banquet was a good one. The evening’s emcee, Burton, kept things light and fun. This was especially helpful to combat the low spirits of many brothers from the Midwest who were hoping Jodi would have been elected GP. David and Jody also commented on how passionate Lifetime Achievement Award winner Claire Sammon Roberts was and the high quality of her speech during the banquet.

Overall both David and Jody had great experiences and great stories from the 2017 GCC. David (an Iowa State grad) had a neat moment finding and connecting with another Iowa State alum he had previously never met who currently lives in Richmond, Virginia. And one of David’s favorite moments came Saturday night out at the bars for one last hurrah with some of his closest friends and having a great time win or lose.

David (center, white t-shirt), Jody (furthermost right)

Jody did have a funny story about Nolan stepping in a very deep mud puddle that had filled a street pothole. 2017 was a very different experience for Jody compared to her only other Grand Chapter (Orlando in 2007). She was quick to point out that both of these were the highest-ever attended GCC’s. For one she was a collegiate and the other she was an alumni with years of volunteer leadership experience. Jody said her favorite part of the trip was Monday. That was before the official congress had begun and a bunch of brothers took the day to go out as a group to explore the city… with no agenda, before any campaign craziness, just being flexible and doing whatever looked fun. It was a long day and a great day.

David and Jody had a great time at the 2017 Grand Chapter Congress in New Orleans.
Mark your calendars for the 52nd GCC: August 14-18, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.

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My Kind of Time, That’s What GCC Is

Delta Sigma Pi’s 50th Grand Chapter Congress was held August 12-16, 2015 in Chicago Illinois. Actually located at the Schaumburg Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center, GCC was fun, eventful, and well-attended by Iowans.

2015-08 great plains region

Des Moines – Central Iowa Alumni Chapter President, Tom, was the alumni chapter’s delegate to the Grand Chapter (pictured above, 4th row, first from right). Other alumni chapter members present included the 2 alternate delegates, David (4th row, second from right) and Phil (2nd row, first from right). Jillian, the RVP of the Great Plains Region and Des Moines – Central Iowa Alumni Chapter member rounded out the Iowa crew (1st row, first from right). All those pictured above are members of the Great Plains Region, consisting of Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

There were over 1,000 people registered to attend the 2015 GCC. During the 5-day conference the Leadership Foundation fundraised a record-setting amount (over $100,000). The event was an impressive display of Fraternity, brotherhood, Robert’s Rules, partying, and awards and recognitions.

Wednesday morning kicked off with a 9:00 AM Keynote by IBM associate partner (and brother) Jeff Zych. Brother Zych spoke about the changing business environment and what technologies like big data (and specifically Watson) were doing to the employment landscape. Talking about “workplace 2020”, Zych offered advice how to position yourself to work productively with the future of cognitive computing.

The rest of Wednesday featured mostly break-out educational sessions and other speeches. There were several sessions geared towards alumni chapters including a forum for alumni chapter issues and a sharing session for alumni chapter best practices. Several ideas were gleaned from these events. Wednesday closed with an address from 2014 Collegian of the Year, Nick Rizzi.

Wednesday night was the Grand President’s Dance. This dance had the theme of a tailgate. Brothers wore school colors and other casual or sports-like clothing they might actually tailgate wearing. Besides the typical DJ and a dance floor, there were several games set up around the room including bags, table tennis, basketball shooting game, Foosball, and perhaps the most popular – office chair hockey. This was a really innovative and interesting spin on a regular dance as it entertained many more people than who just wanted to bust a move on the dance floor. The Golden Knight Initiation Ceremony was performed at this dance… but not before a little entertainment from some REAL knights as a preview of the Thursday night event at Medieval Times. This was a great time, with the only complaint being that beers were $7.

2015-08 GCC

Thursday kicked off the meeting of the Grand Chapter. After opening ritual, there was the Honorary Initiation of Barry Salzberg, now a full-time Professor at Columbia University and former global Chief Executive Officer at Deloitte. Taking a significant role in the initiation (every province was represented) was DSM-CIA Chapter President, Tom. Immediately following his initiation, brother Salzberg answered questions asked by Delta Sigma Pi’s 2014 Career Achievement Award Winner (and fellow Deloitte partner) brother Theresa Drew. Salzberg left an impression on the audience with his personal story of being poor as a child, but finding success by having people encourage him to get an education and a good career. Salzberg encouraged the audience to step our of your comfort zone as well as be committed to what you do. He recommended people listen more than they talk as well as stressed the importance of mentors and sponsors.

Then the Grand Chapter got down to real business… but not too much before the Alumni Recognition Lunch. After eating lasagna, many alumni were recognized for 25 years of fraternity service (Silver Helmet) and for reaching certain dollar donation levels or consecutive years of donations to the Leadership Foundation.

The Grand Chapter did not pass the proposed Alumni Committee Bylaw Amendment, nor did it pass the Ritual Change Proposal (although the latter issued was referred to the Board of Directors for study and will be back at the 2017 Grand Chapter Congress).

There were plenty of awards applied for and won by Chapters in the North Central Province and the Great Plains Region. Unfortunately the DSM-CIA Chapter took home no awards this year.

Thursday night was the awesome Deltasig takeover of Medieval Times. The Grand President even got to dress up and take part in some of the show. The entertainment featured knights representing the different provinces (and one for alumni) of the fraternity competing in various games, showing their skill. Then there was a challenge from a knight from a competing business fraternity! So the six Deltasig knights eliminated each other until the Black and White Knight (alumni) was chosen to represent DSP and thoroughly vanquished the knight from the rival fraternity. The food was good (even without silverware) and the show was a little corny, yet exciting and very entertaining at times.

Friday the Grand Chapter got together to finish up nominations for elected officers, then heard remarks from the candidates. Even though Grand President Onuka Ibe was running unopposed, he gave a speech, the theme of which was alignment, with the most-obvious example being the joint board-foundation meeting coming up in January 2016. Then there were remarks from the 4 candidates for VP of Finance (and the speeches that introduced them). Then the Provincial Caucuses were held. Because North Central Provincial Vice President, Jodi Schoh was running unopposed, this time was used to brainstorm ideas for the Province.

The Awards Lunch was Friday. It featured tri-colored tortellini with pulled chicken. (Everyone agreed that the tortellini all tasted the same even though they came in 3 different colors.)

2015-08 Chad speech

The program consisted of the national awards being presented, scholarship award winners (who were at GCC) being announced, and an Address by the North Central Province’s own, the 2015 Collegian of the Year, Chad Robinson (pictured above). Chad’s speech had many who knew him best rolling with laughter and several a little tearful by the end. Chad’s parents were in attendance for the lunch and the end of Chad’s speech was punctuated by Chad’s father bounding up on stage to give his son a giant hug.

After lunch was the Regional Caucus. Because Jillian was running unopposed, this was a short and sweet meeting discussing upcoming plans for the region.

Saturday was the final day of the 2015 Grand Chapter Congress. Before the session could end, Randy Hultz (presiding over the meeting as Chancellor) worked in all his mafia references (as per a challenge from the first day of the meeting… stemming from Chicago’s mafia history including Al Capone). Onuka Ibe was elected Grand President by acclimation. Kelly Rabin was elected VPF on the second ballot. Testimonials were read. Most of these focused on thanking volunteer leaders for their service. Others focused on welcoming newly installed chapters and colonies. A couple of the testimonials grew very emotional as deceased brothers were remembered. Finally before the meeting was adjourned, Board Members, National Committee Chairs, and RVPs were recognized for their service.

Saturday night was the banquet. Many in attendance were dressed to the nines. The front of the room had some neat Chicago-type decorations around the podium. Much like a wedding party coming into a wedding reception, there was a Grand March of elected Delta Sigma Pi leaders that came into the banquet. This occurred at 7:15 pm. The march and marchers were very festive. The banquet dinner was a chicken breast in sauce as well as vegetables and rice. During the banquet program, many people in attendance were recognized. There was a travel award presented and a countdown for how many Grand Chapter Congresses each person had attended. Bill Tatum was the last person standing by several Grand Chapters. His total was something like above 25. There were a couple bobble-heads made up and a very memorable moment came when Grand President Ibe presented the diamond badge he had just received to his wife. The banquet ended at 10:24 pm. A DJ dance immediately followed. Many people, however, moved into the brighter hallways to take pictures.

After a great week, brothers and friends departed Schaumburg Sunday morning, many already planning their trip to the 51st. GCC in New Orleans, LA.